This allegation was proven untrue over six years ago. Today, the New York Times once again trotted out the accusation that Sarah Palin provoked a shooting spree.
The editorial board of The New York Times traced the root factor in James Hodgkinson’s targeted assault on Republican lawmakers to the doorstep of Sarah Palin in an op-ed today entitled, “America’s Lethal Politics‘.
Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.
Jared Loughner entered a supermarket parking lot in Tuscon on January 8th, 2011 and opened fire. He killed six people and wounded 14 others. One of those wounded was Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
More than six years later, The New York Times is still holding Governor Sarah Palin partly responsible for that bloody day. This, in spite of facts that emerged in the immediate aftermath of the attack that incontrovertibly demonstrated that Loughner’s actions against Giffords had been building up for years prior to the assault.
The root of the initial accusation against Palin lay in an innocuous image published by her political action committee in March of 2010. SarahPAC had identified 20 congressional seats held by Democrats ripe for the taking in the upcoming mid-term elections. Among them Arizona’s 8th district held by Gabrielle Giffords.
The image depicted a map of the United States, with 20 small cross hairs placed across the country identifying the approximate geographical area of the congressional districts that SarahPAC believed were vulnerable to defeat.
While The Times op-ed asserts that the map placed “stylized cross hairs” on Gabrielle Giffords and 19 other lawmakers, you can see that is untrue. The map is empty of anything but the cross hairs. No names, no faces. The 20 representatives and their districts are listed below the map.
Military terminology and imagery have always been part of the political vernacular. Politicians return fire, states become battlegrounds, and districts are targeted, as SarahPAC did in 2010. Even the political usage of the word campaign derives from its original definition of an organized military action.
In the immediate aftermath of the Gifford shooting, some political operative/journalist who was aware that Palin was seeking to unseat Gifford, saw an opportunity to wage an attack on Palin and attempt to hold her responsible. The theory was that Loughner saw the image on the SarahPAC website, and was provoked enough to march into a parking lot and open fire ten months later.
The allegation was made, and the meme spread quickly. This was all part of an ongoing, organized effort to smear Palin that had been taking place for several years. More on that in a bit.
This accusation against Sarah Palin was proven false by a report published in Mother Jones (no friend of Palin) two days after the shooting in an article on January 10th, 2011.
Reporter Nick Baumann interviewed Bryce Tierney, “an old and close friend” of Jared Loughner.
Tierney tells Mother Jones in an exclusive interview that Loughner held a years-long grudge against Giffords and had repeatedly derided her as a “fake.” Loughner’s animus toward Giffords intensified after he attended one of her campaign events and she did not, in his view, sufficiently answer a question he had posed.
Federal prosecutors charged Loughner three days after the shooting. In their affidavit, they identified the date of the Gifford campaign event that Bryce Tierney described as having taking place on August 25th, 2007. Loughner’s “animus toward Giffords” had been building for a long time. Years before the SarahPAC image was even published in 2010.
While the New York Times is still peddling these false allegations against Palin six years later, over six years ago the Washington Post got the story right.
Jared Lee Loughner, appears to have had an animus for Giffords dating back to 2007, long before Palin posted the map on her Facebook page last March. So despite media efforts to draw larger meaning from the tragedy, the charge that Palin’s map had anything to do with the shooting is bogus.
Surprisingly, many media outlets came to Palin’s defense today. Some of them with a long history of anti-Palin bias.
Slate published an article titled, “What the NYT Missed When It Got the Palin-Giffords Story So Very Wrong”
The New York Times editorial board screwed up a 6-year-old story on Wednesday. It wasn’t a small story, either. They attacked Sarah Palin for a crime she didn’t commit – influencing Gabby Giffords shooter Jared Lee Loughner.
There was never any evidence to demonstrate that Loughner’s attack was linked to Palin’s district target map in any way whatsoever. (Slate)
The Washington Post advised the New York Times this afternoon that these allegations against Palin were bogus six years ago, and they’re still bogus today.
CNN’s Jake Tapper reminded folks that we knew back in January of 2011 that Loughner’s motivations had nothing to do with Sarah Palin.
Wall Street Journal editor James Taranto chimed in:
The only reason Democrats and their media operatives even tried to lay a false ‘blood libel’ on Palin for the Giffords shooting back in January of 2011, was that they were heavily engaged in taking every possible opportunity to attack Palin and tear her down. They were in the midst of a long sustained war against Sarah Palin. They feared her. They feared her ability to do in a 2012 election what Donald Trump accomplished in 2016
Palin’s selection as the Vice Presidential candidate in early September 2008, propelled McCain ahead of Obama in national polling. Up until then, the Republican candidate had trailed in almost every poll for the entire campaign. Subsequent to Palin’s electrifying performance at the Republican National Convention, the Republican ticket took the lead or was tied in ten out the next twelve national polls. For the first time in the 2008 race the McCain campaign was competitive, with a better than even chance to win the election.
And then Lehman brothers collapsed on September 15th.starting a run on banks and threatening a worldwide economic collapse. Voters were already predisposed to blame Republicans for a crisis that began on George W. Bush’s watch. McCain compounded negative voter perceptions by suspending his campaign to address the crisis. It was over from there on out.
Still, Democrats had seen enough of Palin to realize that she was a looming factor over 2012, so they set out to destroy her. Placing blame on Palin for the Gifford shooting was just one of many examples of an endless series of attacks waged against her since the fall of 2008.
The New York Times this afternoon issued a “correction” this afternoon in their online edition of today’s editorial. It wasn’t much of a correction. They removed the phrase that said the link between Palin and Loughner “was clear”. And they tacked a line on at the end saying that “no connection to the shooting was ever established”, as if they’re still waiting for further evidence to emerge. No clear cut acknowledgement that they’ve been pushing a false narrative for six years, that everyone else seems to have gotten right a very, very long time ago.
Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl. At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. But in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established.
Also notable was lack of any regret. No apology for Sarah Palin. Not from the ‘venerable’ New York Times. This afternoon’s “correction” was only made in the online edition. The correction will not be seen by those who have already read the editorial. It isn’t often that a reader will return to an article they’ve already read.
The Times has a daily print circulation of 600,000 copies. 100’s of 1000’s of commuters will read the false version as originally printed.
Palin does have one avenue of recourse though. She tweeted directly at the New York Times opinion editor that she has been advised to consider a lawsuit, and is already speaking with her attorneys. That should get the attention of The Times editorial board.
We wish her the utmost success should she choose to pursue that course of action.
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